Body Double (1984)

R | 114 mins | Mystery | 1984

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HISTORY


       In a Nov 1984 unsourced article entitled “Brian De Palma Defends His Films’ Violence,” Pat H. Broeske reported that the idea for the film first came to writer-director Brian De Palma when he was casting a body double for actress Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill (1980, see entry). De Palma considered pornographic film star Annette Haven for the role of “Holly Body”; however, he commented later that her screen test was not strong and said Haven “could not flirt.” Moreover, Columbia Pictures, the studio financing the film, did not approve of Haven’s casting. A 24 Oct 1984 LAT article reported that Haven acted as a consultant on the film, though she did not receive credit.
       De Palma met actress Melanie Griffith, whom he eventually cast as “Holly,” through her husband, actor Steven Bauer, who had appeared in the director’s previous film, Scarface (1983, see entry). In a Nov 1984 issue of Vogue , Griffith responded to allegations that De Palma was a male chauvinist, describing the filmmaker as “so wonderful” and adding, “I understood before I worked with him that he was a little bit of a male chauvinist…So is every man.”
       Despite De Palma’s comment that “there is no crossover between the adult film industry and [mainstream] Hollywood” in Broeske’s article, a 21 May 1984 news item in New York announced that adult film actor Michael Kearns was cast in the role of a “Male porno star” in the film. Unbeknownst to De Palma and casting director Janet Hirshenson, Kearns had starred in L.A. Tool & Die (1979), a popular, hardcore, gay pornographic film. ... More Less


       In a Nov 1984 unsourced article entitled “Brian De Palma Defends His Films’ Violence,” Pat H. Broeske reported that the idea for the film first came to writer-director Brian De Palma when he was casting a body double for actress Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill (1980, see entry). De Palma considered pornographic film star Annette Haven for the role of “Holly Body”; however, he commented later that her screen test was not strong and said Haven “could not flirt.” Moreover, Columbia Pictures, the studio financing the film, did not approve of Haven’s casting. A 24 Oct 1984 LAT article reported that Haven acted as a consultant on the film, though she did not receive credit.
       De Palma met actress Melanie Griffith, whom he eventually cast as “Holly,” through her husband, actor Steven Bauer, who had appeared in the director’s previous film, Scarface (1983, see entry). In a Nov 1984 issue of Vogue , Griffith responded to allegations that De Palma was a male chauvinist, describing the filmmaker as “so wonderful” and adding, “I understood before I worked with him that he was a little bit of a male chauvinist…So is every man.”
       Despite De Palma’s comment that “there is no crossover between the adult film industry and [mainstream] Hollywood” in Broeske’s article, a 21 May 1984 news item in New York announced that adult film actor Michael Kearns was cast in the role of a “Male porno star” in the film. Unbeknownst to De Palma and casting director Janet Hirshenson, Kearns had starred in L.A. Tool & Die (1979), a popular, hardcore, gay pornographic film. After he was cast, Hirshenson commented that Kearns looked appropriate for the part and she did not care about his history. Though a 13 Jan 1984 HR news brief announced that Kurt Russell was being considered for the male lead, Craig Wasson was eventually cast as “Jake Scully.”
       A 13 Feb 1984 DV brief announced that filming would begin in Los Angeles, CA, on 21 Feb 1984. Los Angeles’s landmark “Chemosphere House,” designed by John Lautner and completed in 1961, appeared in the film as the house from which Wasson spied on “Gloria,” according to an 18 Dec 1984 LAHExam news item. The house went on sale around the time of the film’s release, with an asking price of $1.05 million.
       As a promotion for the film, De Palma directed a music video for the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes Hollywood, according to the 24 Oct 1984 LAT article. Pleased with the video, De Palma included it in the film, though he had not originally planned to do so. MTV refused to air “Relax,” claiming that it contained “sexually objectionable” content, and met with De Palma on 23 Oct 1984 to suggest edits to the video. Likewise, television and print advertisements for Body Double faced censorship problems. After newspapers rejected an ad depicting Griffith with a provocative facial expression behind venetian blinds, additional slats were added to the blinds in order to “obfuscate her ecstasy.” The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) rejected a television ad for the film, eventually airing a “toned-down version” provided by Columbia.
       According to the 24 Oct 1984 LAT article, national sneak previews, slated to screen at 500 theaters, were canceled after the film performed poorly at a Van Nuys, CA, screening with a recruited audience. Several viewers, mostly women, walked out of the theater after a gruesome murder scene. Remaining audience members rated the film poorly on score cards, and Columbia decided that further sneak preview engagements might hinder the film rather than help it. Angered by the decision, De Palma commented, “It’s appalling that 325 people recruited from shopping malls can shake the confidence of professionals who’ve been working in the industry for decades.” In a 25 Oct 1984 HR report, Ashley Boone, president of marketing and distribution for Columbia, argued that the studio canceled sneak previews “because the prints weren’t ready.” Boone also commented on NBC’s refusal to run television ads for the film, saying, “NBC didn’t run the ads is because it decided not to play them at certain times of day.”
       Critical reception was mixed, though several reviewers agreed that Griffith’s performance made the film worthwhile. A 15 Oct 1984 HR review criticized the writing, stating that “the title is a dead giveaway and it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out whodunit.” In addition to HR , reviews from LAT and NYT on 26 Oct 1984, and Var on 17 Oct 1984, accused De Palma of borrowing too much from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958, see entry), and some pointed out the irony that Griffith was the daughter of actress Tippi Hedren, star of Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963, see entry).
       A 27 Jan 1985 NYT news item stated that the film had taken in $3.7 million in box-office receipts to the time. The “negative cost” of the film was reportedly $19 million.
       According to a Sep 1985 Box item, the film’s teaser trailer won a CLIO Award for “the best cinema commercial of 1985.” Melanie Griffith received a Golden Globe award nomination for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.”

       End credits contain an acknowledgement for “‘The House is Burning,’ a video clip performed by Vivabeat, courtesy of Derek Khan Chang and Vivabeat,” followed by a “Special Thanks” to Mr. Amega of Princess Ermine Jewels. The final credit of the film states, “Filmed at the Burbank Studios and Los Angeles, California.”


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Will Kuhn, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Sep 1985.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1984
p. 3, 7.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1984.
---
LAHExam
26 Oct 1984.
---
LAHExam
18 Dec 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1984
p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1984
Calendar, p. 20.
New York
21 May 1984.
---
New York Times
26 Oct 1984
p. 8.
New York Times
27 Jan 1985
Section A, p. 17.
Variety
17 Oct 1984
p. 15.
Vogue
Nov 1984.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Brian De Palma presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Process photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Const coord
Standby painter
Paint foreman
Carpenter foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's ward supv
Men's ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp
Supv mus ed
/Segue Music
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd eff rec
Foley
Foley
Foley rec by
at TAJ
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Eff mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end titles des by
New York City
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Spec makeup
Spec makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Extra casting
Prod assoc
Asst to Mr. De Palma
Asst to Mr. De Palma
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Unit pub
DGA trainee
DGA trainee
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Animal handler
Craft service
Trainer
Trainer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
"Relax," performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, written by Peter Gill, Holly Johnson and Mark O'Toole, produced by Trevor Horn, courtesy of ZTT/Island Records, Inc.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 October 1984
Production Date:
began 21 February 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 November 1984
Copyright Number:
PA228297
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses & Panaflex® cameras by Panavision®; Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27547
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, Jake Scully plays a vampire on the set of a horror film. When Jake becomes paralyzed by claustrophobia inside a coffin, the director, Rubin, grants him a week off. Jake returns home to find his girlfriend having sex with another man, then leaves to drink at a bar. The bartender, Douglas, offers to let Jake sleep on his couch. The next day, Jake auditions for a role, and is introduced to an actor named Sam Bouchard. At another audition, Jake runs into Sam again, and sees him for a third time that day when Sam sits in on Jake’s acting class. After the drama teacher pressures Jakes to confront his claustrophobia and Jake panics, Sam defends him and leads Jake out of the class. They go to a bar together, and Jake tells Sam that he recently left his girlfriend who cheated on him and is in search of a sublet. Sam proposes that Jake take over his job as a house-sitter for the next few days, as Sam must go to Seattle, Washington, for an audition. Later, Sam shows Jake around the house where he will stay – it’s a modern structure perched high on a hill with windows all around and plants that need to be watered once a day. Sam points out a telescope and says that an attractive neighbor does a seductive dance in the window every night at the same time. As Jake glances through the telescope, he spots the woman, Gloria Revelle, and watches her dance topless, covered in jewels. After Sam leaves, Jake continues to stare through the telescope and sees a man take cash from a safe ... +


In Los Angeles, California, Jake Scully plays a vampire on the set of a horror film. When Jake becomes paralyzed by claustrophobia inside a coffin, the director, Rubin, grants him a week off. Jake returns home to find his girlfriend having sex with another man, then leaves to drink at a bar. The bartender, Douglas, offers to let Jake sleep on his couch. The next day, Jake auditions for a role, and is introduced to an actor named Sam Bouchard. At another audition, Jake runs into Sam again, and sees him for a third time that day when Sam sits in on Jake’s acting class. After the drama teacher pressures Jakes to confront his claustrophobia and Jake panics, Sam defends him and leads Jake out of the class. They go to a bar together, and Jake tells Sam that he recently left his girlfriend who cheated on him and is in search of a sublet. Sam proposes that Jake take over his job as a house-sitter for the next few days, as Sam must go to Seattle, Washington, for an audition. Later, Sam shows Jake around the house where he will stay – it’s a modern structure perched high on a hill with windows all around and plants that need to be watered once a day. Sam points out a telescope and says that an attractive neighbor does a seductive dance in the window every night at the same time. As Jake glances through the telescope, he spots the woman, Gloria Revelle, and watches her dance topless, covered in jewels. After Sam leaves, Jake continues to stare through the telescope and sees a man take cash from a safe on Gloria’s bedroom wall then strike her. The next morning, Jake’s agent informs him that he has been replaced on the vampire film. At night, Jake watches Gloria’s seductive dance again and notices an Indian with a scarred face watching from a nearby utility tower. The next day, while driving, Jake spots the Indian pursuing Gloria in her car and follows both cars to a shopping mall. In the parking lot, he eavesdrops when Gloria calls someone from a payphone, mentions that she was hit the other night, and pleads with the person to meet her. Following Gloria through the mall, Jake tries to tell her that she is being pursued by the Indian, but when they ride an elevator together, Jake experiences claustrophobia and cannot speak. As she leaves, Gloria throws away a pair of underwear she just purchased but Jake removes them from the trash and keeps them. Gloria then drives to a beachfront motel and Jake continues to pursue her. On the beach, Jake tells Gloria she’s being followed, and, at the same time, the Indian rushes past and snatches her purse. Jake runs after the Indian into a tunnel, and experiences another attack of claustrophobia that keeps him from catching the man, who takes only one card from Gloria’s purse and leaves. Gloria finds Jake inside the tunnel and helps him out. They kiss, but Gloria breaks away and runs off. Later, Jake practices making a phone call to Gloria, and watches through the telescope as she enters her house, accompanied by a police officer. Sam calls and asks about the house, but Jake is distracted by watching Gloria. After the phone call, Jake sees the Indian sneak upstairs at Gloria’s house while the police officer leaves. As Gloria heads upstairs, the Indian steals cash from the wall safe. Jake calls Gloria to warn her, but the Indian attacks and strangles her with the phone cord. Gloria manages to subdue him and break away; however, when she tries to call the police, the Indian attacks again with an industrial-sized power drill. Jake runs to Gloria’s house but arrives too late, finding Gloria dead and the Indian gone. Police later question Jake and find him suspect, partly due to his peeping, but do not detain him. Jake learns that Gloria’s husband, Alexander Revelle, is a suspect because Gloria was very rich and he may have wanted to steal her money. Back at his house-sitting job, Jake gets drunk and watches television, spotting an advertisement for a pornography film titled Holly Does Hollywood . In the film, an actress named Holly Body does a seductive dance that perfectly resembles Gloria’s dance. Jake seeks out a copy of the film, then calls the distributor of the picture and asks for an audition. Jake is cast in a film with Holly, and after they perform a sex scene together, he asks her out on a business dinner, pretending to be a pornography producer. After dinner, Holly goes home with Jake, and he admits that he is not actually in pornography but wanted to ask her if she was the woman doing the seductive dance in Gloria’s window. Holly admits that she was hired to do her dance at the Revelle house, but she threatens to leave, angry that Jake lied to her. Sam calls, and Jake holds the phone up for Holly to hear his voice, and she confirms that Sam was the man who hired her. Holly leaves to hitch a ride, and Jake calls the police to explain his theory that Sam is actually Alexander Revelle, and he killed Gloria and set Jake up as a witness to the crime. Meanwhile, Sam, disguised as the Indian, picks up Holly outside the house. Jake pursues them to a remote area by an aqueduct and finds Sam digging a grave for Holly. Jake rips off Sam’s mask, but he is pushed into the grave. Gripped with claustrophobia, Jake watches as Sam shovels dirt on top of him. Jake remembers his claustrophobia on the set of the vampire film, and imagines what would have happened if he overcame his fear and got back into the coffin. Realizing he must fight his claustrophobia, Jake fights his way out of the grave and Sam’s dog knocks Sam into the waterway. Jake tries to help Holly, who has now fallen into the grave, but she refuses to let him touch her. Sometime later, Jake has returned to his role as the vampire on Rubin’s horror film, and Holly smiles as she watches him on the set. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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